Is it just me or has the world gone framework crazy? Christian Montoya put together a table of some of the most popular frameworks (although some prefer to refer to them as development kits) a couple of years ago but since then a lot more of have sprung up, with more than half a dozen popping up in the last few months.
The flurry of activity in recent months has been fuelled by the increased awareness of Responsive Web Design (RWD) with nearly all the recent offerings aimed at speeding up the process of creating responsive or adaptive layouts. There also seems to have been a focus recently on typographic styling and working to a baseline grid, although this is not just a new fad, with many of the older frameworks listed below also including vertical rhythm styles.
|* In some cases I've used Github commit histories to determine age of projects how it's possible that some where in existence before finding homes on Github. The last few I couldn't find any information indicating when the projects first started.|
|YAML||Dirk Jesse||Nov 2005||Jun 2011||The original framework (?)|
|YUI Library||Yahoo||Feb 2006||Aug 2011||A large collection of projects|
|960 Grid System||Nathan Smith||Mar 2008||Jun 2011||Fixed width|
|SenCSS||Kilian Valkhof||Jun 2008||Jul 2010||Typographic|
|Blueprint||Joshua Clayton||Aug 2008||Jun 2011||Fixed width|
|Ez-CSS||Thierry Koblenz||Jan 2010||Jun 2011||Lightweight|
|Fem CSS Framework||Jesus Carrera||Jan 2010||Jan 2010||Fixed width, based on 960gs|
|BlueTrip||Mike Crittenden||Feb 2010||Jun 2011||Fixed width|
|Easy front-end framework||Alen Grakalic||Mar 2010||May 2010||Includes built-in js functions|
|Fluidgrid||Joseph Silvashy||Mar 2009||Jul 2010||Fluid|
|Fluid 960 Grid System||Stephen Bau||Jun 2009||Jul 2010||Fluid, based on 960gs|
|Elastic CSS||Aug 2009||Jun 2011||Fluid, responsive|
|HTML5 Boilerplate||Paul Irish, Divya Manian, Shi Chuan, Mathias Bynens & Nicolas Gallagher||Aug 2010||Aug 2011||HTML5-focused with build script|
|Centage||Jussi Jokinen||Oct 2010||Nov 2011||Fluid, built with Less|
|Formalize||Nathan Smith||Oct 2010||Aug 2011||Form styling|
|HTML5 Mobile Boilerplate||Shi Chuan, Paul Irish & Divya Manian||Dec 2010||Jul 2011||Mobile version of HTML5 Boilerplate|
|HTML Email Boilerplate||Sean Powell||Feb 2011||Jun 2011||HTML email styling|
|320 & Up||Andy Clarke||Apr 2011||Apr 2011||Responsive, mobile first|
|Bootstrap||Apr 2011||Aug 2011||Built with Less|
|Normalize||Nicolas Gallagher & Jonathan Neal||Apr 2011||Aug 2011||Reset styles; now built into HTML5 Boilerplate|
|Inuit||Harry Roberts||Apr 2011||Jul 2011||Responsive, typographic|
|Skeleton||Dave Gamache||Apr 2011||Aug 2011||Responsive|
|Gridless Boilerplate||thatcoolguy||May 2011||Aug 2011||Responsive, mobile first|
|Foldy960||Paravel||May 2011||July 2011||Responsive based on 960gs|
|Golden Grid System||Joni Korpi||July 2011||Aug 2011||Responsive, fluid, typographic|
|Less Framework||Joni Korpi||Jun 2011||Jun 2011||Responsive, fixed width, typographic|
|The Semantic Grid System||Tyler Tate||Jun 2011||Aug 2011||Responsive, uses Less|
|Foundation||Zurb||Oct 2011||Oct 2011||Aimed at building prototypes|
|1140 CSS Grid||Andy Taylor||Responsive|
So which framework should you use? I personally use none of them, and lots of them. If you read the descriptions of most of the frameworks, they'll tell you that the idea behind them is to use them as starting points for your own projects, ‘frameworks’ on which to build your own markup and styles. Most of them would have started out as a set of base files that the author used to start his/her projects. I had my own default HTML and CSS files to which I added stuff I used commonly before I became aware of any of these frameworks.
Over time these files have had code added to them, taken out, and had other additional files added. Most recently my HTML template has been greatly inspired by HTML5 Boilerplate, although I tend not to use the new structural elements often yet. My stylesheets are the ones that have changed the most over time, and that's still the same today. My current stylesheet is now a .less file, rather than .css, and aside from the styles I've built up over the years, includes bits and pieces from HTML5 Boilerplate, Normalize, Gridless Boilerplate, and most recently from Golden Grid System and Bootstrap by Twitter from which I poached some improved Less mixins (also grabbed some good ones the other day from Peter Wilson).
Exploring what's under the hood of a new framework often forces you to reconsider why you do things in a certain way, and whether there is a better approach, which I think is a good thing. It can sometimes be a bit of a balancing act to incorporate other people's work while still fitting in with the way you do things, but looking at the way others do things is often the best way to learn or push your own skills forward.
So does anyone have any favourites from this list or perhaps know of others I've missed out? Or perhaps, like some, you think there are too many frameworks out there now and the sheer number of them is now actually doing more harm than good.